Life Outside the Oval Office: The Track Less Traveled
by Nick Symmonds
800m Olympic Runner/World Championship Medalist
Prior to reading this book I knew of Nick Symmonds. I knew he was an Olympic athlete, I knew he was a champion for pro runners and their sponsors to have fair opportunity apart from the control of the USATF and I knew that he was pretty good-looking because it seems like most pictures I’ve seen of him are presented in such a way as to say “Hey… this is a good-looking man! Check him out!” Reading the book was a fun opportunity to peek inside his mind and learn more about him.
It was amazing to read about some of the big races in Nick’s life. He runs the 800m… it’s two laps around the track. But I’m pretty sure there is more emotion and thought and strategy that is going through his head in that than I have in my brain during a marathon. It was INTENSE. Just reading it made me feel the intensity of the race. Part of me is glad that I will never be a competitor at that level and have to think about that much in a race environment, or the fact that somebody could misstep and cause others to fall and ruin their whole race. (Yes… I fell in a marathon and got my awesome DNF and a chin full of stitches, but that didn’t ruin other competitors’ race.)
Nick Symmonds’ book had A LOT of info that just fascinated me. The information about how they are tested to make sure they’re not doping was just insane to me. Even though I don’t have to live through that process, I’m kind of pissed off that there are people who dope and make it so that organizations feel the need to test all pro athletes this way. Listen to this:
“If they want urine, then a DCO (doping control officer) follows me into the bathroom and asks me to wash my hands. The DCO then asks me to pull my pants down to my ankles and lift my shirt up to my armpits while he stands inches away to watch the urine leave my body and enter the little plastic cup they have provided me with. Needless to say, this can take some getting used to. I absolutely hate this part of my job. I find it to be a huge invasion of my privacy.”
Can you imagine? He also details some of the ways people have been known to cheat the tests, but I really respected this statement:
“There are times when I lament the fact that I have never been ranked number one in the world, but never once have I considered cheating to get there. I take pride in the fact that at night I can collapse onto my bed after a hard, honest day’s work. I also take much joy in the fact that when I lie down in my bed, I don’t have a fake penis hidden in my underwear along with a bag of someone else’s urine strapped to my leg.”
Nick is good at marketing himself, he is firmly entrenched in the social media scene and has built an impressive following. And he needs to… while he is a “professional runner” he is also in the business of marketing. He’s marketing himself, the sport, his sponsors, etc. Sadly most pro runners aren’t allowed to give their sponsors the exposure they should get because of USATF rules about what logos can be displayed and where and how big… I hope it’s changing in a positive way. Athletes like Nick who are vocal about these needed changes (and others, but I won’t direct the spotlight in this post away from Mr. Symmonds) are getting the spotlight and I hope things change.
There are so many pages in the book I folded over with the thought, “I need to mention this on my site. And share this. And this too.” But if I put all of them in this post I’d probably end up re-writing the book and then I’d get sued. I really enjoyed this book… Nick Symmonds is more than that vocal good-looking athlete who goes on dates with Paris Hilton. Yes, he’s those things… but more. Take the chance to get to know him by reading this book. I highly recommend this book!
Oh… and I feel special because my copy of the book is signed. Sure… I’m certain I was part of an assembly line while Nick had to autograph books, but it still is kind of cool to see inside the front cover! Big big big thanks to Brooks Running for sending me this book!